When the WWE had a REAL fight – and it went horribly wrong
For a brief moment in time, pro-wrestling organization WWE (then known as WWF) made an ill-fated decision to have real fights in the ring, and as this video shows, it all went horribly wrong!
This was back in 1998 at a time when the company was in a battle for ratings with WCW and so they came up with the concept of a ‘Brawl For All’, a tournament that would pit some of the company’s stars against each other in real, non-scripted fights.
The rules drawn up meant that it was more like a boxing match than an MMA fight, with punches and takedowns allowed, but kicks and submissions being forbidden.
Each match would consist of three, one-minute rounds, with 5 points being awarded for landing the most punches each round, 5 points for a takedown, and 10 points for a knockdown, with a KO ending the fight.
The ‘Brawl For All’ tournament proved to be a disaster from start to finish, with one of the officials at the time, Jim Cornette later declaring it, “the stupidest thing that the WWF has ever done.”
The fights between the 16 WWF wrestlers who volunteered to compete for a $100,000 prize were extremely sloppy, unskilled and made the participants look bad, while several suffered serious injuries that would keep them from returning to the ring for months afterward, and fans that had become accustomed to carefully choreographed routines and storylines hated it.
Most of the fights would end by decision, but the 6ft 4”, 265lb Bart Gunn, aka ‘Bodacious Bart’ emerged as the unlikely winner after a series of impressive stoppage victories against the likes of ‘Dr. Death’, ‘The Godfather’ and Bradshaw.
The tournament had done more harm than good and nobody had ‘got over’ from it, so it was a surprise when WWF announced another match under ‘Brawl For All’ rules between Gunn and professional boxer Eric’Butterbean’ Esch at Wrestlemania 15 in 1999.
WWF officials genuinely believed that Gunn was talented enough to beat Esch according to highly respected journalist Dave Meltzer, and so they sent him to a boxing gym to prepare for several months prior to the fight.
However, they had grossly underestimated the 5ft 11”, 425lb ‘Butterbean’, who dropped Gunn in an early exchange and when he rose back up proceeded to brutally knock him out cold with an overhand right just 35 seconds into the fight.
This was hugely embarrassing for the WWF and they immediately scrapped the ‘Brawl For All’ series and have never had a real fight in the ring since.
Gunn was released from the company soon afterward, they never used ‘Butterbean’ again, while several other wrestlers who’d competed in the tournament’s careers also fizzled out.
Gunn would briefly compete in MMA several years afterward, TKO’ing Wesley ‘Cabbage’ Correira due to a cut in 2006, before losing by submission to Ikuhisa Minowa at PRIDE 13 a few months later.